Tuesday, March 27, 2012


Just gotta say...there sure are a lot of folks at http://www.rolexforums.com/showthread.php?t=225097 and I think that most of them have visited my blog.  Unbelievable stat count.

After reading some comments there, i would like to make a few things a little clearer.

First, yes I am a real person and yes I may be a bit "disgruntled", but with just cause.  Never did I expect that experience to end up being so negative.  Ever look forward to something so much you are literally giddy about it and can't contain your self?  That is what it was like when I started at Rolex in Lititz, PA.   After all, it's Rolex, right?  How incredible is that?  It just has to be the coolest place to work and spend my time until I finally retire. Unfortunatly it was the worst.  I have never before been ashamed to go to work so this was a new low for me.  Fact is, the worst disappointment can only come after the greatest expectations.  And I was ready to bleed Rolex blood if I needed to.  So, yes I am still a bit disgruntled.  But it wasn't my choice.   I still wonder who made me their pawn in who knows what game they played with my career.  My instructors never said anything negative about Rolex, but maybe I should have picked up on the fact that they didn't exactly gloat over them either. 

Second,  while I am so not perfect, I do take the truth seriously.  BTW, the best way to get out of a ticket is to immediately admit you were wrong.  When the cop asks you "do you know why I pulled you over"?  He isn't looking for your opinion, he is simply finding out whether you are a decent human being or not and if you consider lying to the police acceptable.  It isn't as if he doesn't already know what you did wrong...

I don't like being lied to and that is what Rolex did.  In a letter I wrote to Human resources at Rolex I stated that my employment was contingent upon my becoming a a full watchmaker within a short period of time.  Never happened and no reason was given.

Third, the purpose of my writing this is hopefully to save someone else from wasting their time, money, hopes and dreams.  Besides all the money, we lost at least 4 years of our lives and almost our marriage...which I didn't ever think was possible.  As I stated, if I had known what to expect, this would never have happened, I would not have gone into watchmaking in the first place, much less would I have gone to Rolex.

Currently, I am working in my original career field working for a (very) large aircraft manufacturer and absolutely love it here.  We laugh and work very hard  and carry on all day long.  Great bunch of people here.  I know how good I have it and I'm stayin'.

Friday, January 20, 2012

A list of quotes from other sources:

Rolex has the right to decide to whom they want to sell their merchandise. I have the right to decide from whom to purchase merchandise.
I intended to buy a new Cadillac in 2010 but, when GM got bailed out and then cancelled their contract with my dealer of choice, I bought something else.
I had intended to add a couple more Rolexes to my little collection of four but their recent actions may result in a purchases of a different brand or none at all.
Such freedom is the beauty of the system.

Of course it is free (Rolex Watchmaking education). Rolex needs factory workers to service their watches. But once the enthusiastic graduate starts to work he is very disappointed at what he finds. He has the choice of working in just a few big cities and often sits on a virtual production line cranking out the same movement day after day with not much room for any advancement. But how can they keep the enterprising individual who wants to strike out on his own? Simply refuse to sell him parts or make the required equipment costs outrageous and unaffordable.

The only nightmarish thing about the old system was from the watch and equipment company point of view in that they could not make it more profitable for themselves. The answers to most issues can be found by simply following the money. In the old days you simply bought the parts and did the work. If the consumer wasn’t happy, he found someone else and you wouldn’t last long. It was simple capitalism and it worked. But what if you could eliminate the competition? You could fix your price and get all the business.

Much of this can be understood by simply looking at the application for a Rolex parts account. Their prerequisites include education, workplace environment and equipment. Most of the equipment required is the expensive Swiss stuff sold by their IAB brothers. And at the bottom of the prerequisites is this statement:

“Note: We may reject any application even if these prerequisites are met.”

So if an aspiring young individual asks me if he should go to school for 2 years and spend $50,000 or more on equipment to be able to work on watches what should I tell him?

And the consumer should have the freedom to have their watch serviced by anyone they choose and not be at the mercy of the brands service departments . Could you imagine if you could only have your car serviced at the dealer! It's a deceptive practice not telling a perspective customer that they are forced into a service commitment with the companies service department .

Really, where else are they going to work but at one of the service agencies? A recent grad is barely able to work independently and usually needs another couple of years experience. Traditionally, he would work with another watchmaker- maybe in a jewelry store or for a trade shop. Where’s he going to work if these places are put out of business because they can’t get parts?

There are 2 parts to this issue. These companies not only want to put the independents out of business and sell Swiss equipment, but also control the work force. If a talented young person is frustrated, working on the same movement day after day, where will he be able to look for a better job? He’ll be stuck there with no career options.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Not all is as it appears. Think hard, act cautiously, don't say a word.

St. Paul College Watchmaking College is where I attended school and the timing of the following information is disturbing to me.  The word "pawn" comes to mind.

While working at Rolex, I noticed that I was the only person there that had been hired from an official WOSTEP school other than the Rolex school(I did not however know every persons back ground...so it might have been possible).  Now I hear that Rolex has with drawn funding part way through their promised agreement with St. Paul College and the Watchmaking College is being forced to shut down.  Training at the oldest watchmaking school in the country is coming to an end and the circumstances are vague and unclear.  It was alluded to that Rolex is having money issues, but people saying that must not know how deep Rolex pockets are, nor do they know how busy their factories continue to be. 

There is a new training certification called SAWTA that Rolex is paying for and requiring of everyone it is in control of.  They say it is more comprehensive than WOSTEP and that prospective employers have requested some changes.  I (having completed the WOSTEP program) can see room for improvement and know of areas that were lacking.  Still, it is my guess that personality conflicts are at the core of this divergence and that someone else finally got tired of being pushed around.  Pride and character are a good combination, pride and power are less so.

If scarcity is equivalent to value, we really could not afford to lose another watchmaking college.  There are too few schools to begin with in an industry that is suffering from an acute shortage of skilled workers and if Rolex really needed to show everyone who was the boss and take their ball home early then another manufacturer really should have stepped up to the plate and supported their own industry.

Sometimes you are lucky enough to work for a company where the boss's door is always open and people are encouraged to just walk in and have a truthful conversation about issues in the work place.  If you are ever in a position to work for Rolex (and this is really the purpose of this blog) simply know that that little truthful conversation with the boss is totally unnecessary as he will already know about it.  You will be surrounded by cameras at all times.  Your whereabouts are always known and you will find that anything you say can and will turn up in conversations with management at a later date regardless of who was around when you said it.  People may be assigned to follow you around, always be within earshot and sit near you at breaks pretending to do a crossword puzzle when what they are really doing is taking notes.  Talking things over with yourself in the bathroom is not a good idea either.  No, I am not paranoid.

The other reason you will never have that heart to heart convo with the boss is that it is absolutely forbidden to criticize the company.  The company is in complete control and does not make mistakes.  Therefore having anything other than positive things to say while under the Rolex umbrella is sharply frowned upon.  Always placate the Emperor at all times.

Another fascinating thing would happen from time to time.  People would just dis-appear suddenly with out a trace or a good-bye or even a forwarding address.  Days later I would find myself asking "what happened to so and so?" and no one would have any idea.  We just wouldn't see them again and we knew better than to ask too many questions.  Got to be kind of creepy really.  Other times people were escorted out the door.  I remember the time there was a young pregnant lady that I assume just wasn't Rolex material.  In tears (shame) she was allowed to say her good-byes while 3 armed guards stood by to ensure everything was under control.

The bottom line is:  if I had known, I would have never gone there.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

A few calculations and how not to become a Watchmaker

Watchmaking is intense.  More so when you are learning the trade and trying to concentrate to your fullest.  We didn't have jobs while going to Watchmaking school.  The opportunity cost of that decision was about $50,000 per year.  The cost of school was conservatively $15,000.  The move to the new job was about $5000, but I will not consider our real estate losses as that may have happened anyway...if we had moved for a different job (in no way a certainty), but it was well over $100,000.   The result of not being made a Watchmaker at Rolex was very conservatively over $125,000 for us. 

I expect that I will never know the real reason why I was kept a Technician while others were hired immediately as Watchmakers and would only spend 1 or 2 months as a Technician before moving on to a Watchmaking position.  Myself, I was kept there as a Tech for 2 years, and while I was not the fastest nor the slowest of our group, in the end it did not matter.  All of us were coached on a monthly basis and informed that we were neither good enough nor fast enough at what we did.  The fastest lady had ulcers.  Others in our group showed signs of stress in different ways.  None of us was good enough.  Near the end I was informed that if I didn't improve that it was unlikely I would be promoted to Watchmaker as I had origonally been promised.  That was how bad that "coaching" became.  Shortly afterwords, upper management parroted the same line to me and it was then that I new my career was over.

Please understand, It takes at least 2 years of intense training to even begin to be safe working on a watch, with many years more of working in a probationary type of mode.  You must be so careful!  And this is only if you can make it through 2 years of classes and then to make it through all of the final tests.   Finally you must take a bench test at your new job if you are going to find employment at all.  Again, I was not near the bottom of my class, so I did pretty good throughout, but at Rolex, I was required to basically take 2 years off and just install dials and hands.  I am unaware of anyone that can retain all of that information, not to mention that intense level of skill without using it for 2 years straight.  Especially when your self respect and dignity are whittled away on an at least a monthly basis until you are basically ashamed to go to work any more.

Maybe if I was thinner, or younger, or dressed better, or even had attended the Rolex school as had the other more favored employees.  Maybe if I was a social butterfly or was a total suck-up.  Maybe then.  I expect to never know the why of it, and if I was told, I would probably not believe it at this point anyway.  

You don't have to lie if the truth is at your back. 

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Rolex makes a nice watch too.

I was surprised to find so many people in the industry that disliked the "Top Dog".  I would be talking to a jewelry store owner or Manager about watches and would find a general dislike for the brand.  Maybe I shouldn't say "the brand" because usually it was about the way people were treated by the company or how controlling they were when it came to anything from parts to the smallest image detail.  Nothing was too miniscule to over scrutinize when it came to The Image.  And the world has never seen a company that spent more time and effort when it came to controling parts and inventory.  Wether it was in the companies hands or that of an affiliate.

I once heard someone in upper management telling of how a Company representative would walk into a prospective jewelry store to determine if the store might end up selling their watches.  If anything was amiss in the slightest way, the Representative would simply walk out  of the store without another word or the slightest explanation as to why.  The message was clearly; if you have the clout to act haughty and arrogant and can find a reason to, then perhaps you should.  Thus reinforcing your position of superiority through shear audacity, however distasteful it may be.

While I am on the subject of management, I found it interesting to note that while it is often good practice to promote from within, under certain circumstances a business may end up being run by an entire team of people that has no real business experience, much less education beyond technical training.  Generally, Watchmakers are wonderful, ingenious, diligent workers.  They do not however  tend to be naturally business minded, overly educated (at least what I saw), or in any way socially skilled. 

In a business where higher education is not  an automatic requirement, I believe a business culture is able to de-evolve into a more emotion based routine with tradition being used as the rudder and pride and determination (BFH) the powering force.  Unfortunately, excessive pride can cause a company to aim for class and dignity while ending up with nothing more than fear and intimidation.  On the other hand, the gold still polishes up nicely, so what does it matter?  If you place your factory far enough away from other job opportunities and mostly hire those that are desperate for an income, this can work out rather nicely...assuming you can keep a lid on the facts.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

There have been times in my life that, looking back seem to have a golden glow.  Where dreams and actions and people and places come together to create a slice of life that just works out a little better than we are used to.  Maybe a little bit better than we could hope for.

One of the best 2 years of my life occurred while I was in watchmaking school.  The first year was spent in both physical and mental refinement,  grinding away at excess movement and any thought that kept us out of the zone where watchmaker go to do their finest work.  We worked on accuracy first and then worked toward the next level of smallness.  At each step and at each new challenge we were asked to accomplish, there was a sense of doubt across the whole class.   It all seemed too impossible, too difficult, and yet we were able to concur each new challenge.  Sharing ideas and strategies and helping each other out the best we could.

I continue to be impressed at how much respect we all had for each other.  We came from very diverse backgrounds.  Construction worker, Social Worker, Medical Doctor, Professor, Machinist, IT professional, Aircraft Mechanic.  These people and the instructors genuinely added to my life and I am blessed to have known them.

After 2 wonderful and hope filled years in training, I passed the final tests and was offered a job working for a large mechanical watch manufacturer in rural Pennsylvania.  

Saturday, October 1, 2011

It seemed like a good idea at the time.

The search for another meaningful, career quality job was going no where and after a while a person gets to feeling a little desperate.  Maybe I was a little too wishful.

I wasn't even calling the school about watchmaking.  It was some other career path that I was looking into when I found myself, almost unwillingly waiting for this guy that was going to talk to me about Watchmaking.  Never had it crossed my mind to follow this course, but the guy on the other end seemed to know just what I needed to hear.  He talked for maybe 20 minutes, then I thought about it for another 30 and after double checking with him on a few other points, I knew what I would be doing until I retired in about 25 more years.